Realtors providing assistance to Bollinger County tornado victims

MARBLE HILL, Mo. (KBSI) – The tornado that swept through Bollinger County exactly one month ago left families searching for answers, but in collaboration with the National Association of Realtors Relief Fund, Missouri Realtors and Southeast Missouri Realtors are doing their parts to help take some of the financial stress off the shoulders of those families.

“My daughter was screaming coming down the hallway, saying, ‘Mom, get down! Get down! We’re getting hit by the tornado.’” 

Sharon Burton and her daughter Sarah Gebhardt’s home was severely damaged by the twister. 

“My daughter was screaming coming down the hallway, saying, ‘Mom, get down! Get down! We’re getting hit by the tornado!'” Burton said. “We shut the bedroom door of course and grabbed each other, and it was gone that quick. It came and left probably within seconds, even though it seemed like a lot longer than that, but my mind wasn’t processing what I had just been through.” 

Burton and Gebhardt have been living in a hotel with their dog Blue since the storm and will find out next week whether they will eventually be able to move back into their home, which they just moved into less than a year ago. 

“We’re not used to sharing a bedroom or anything like that, so it’s been a little bit tough,” Gebhardt said.

Help could be on the way for people in the same shoes as Burton and Gebhardt, as $100,000 has been made available to those impacted by the tornado. A maximum of $1,000 per household can be used to make a mortgage payment or cover rental or hotel costs. 

Southeast Missouri Realtors Association Executive Terry Baker said providing even just a little bit of help to those displaced by the disaster is humbling. 

“For us to be able to give back a little bit and help those who live in the community, even if it’s not a lot of assistance, that’s a humbling experience,” she said.

Gebhardt, a realtor herself and a member of the board of realtors, said it is vital for her to keep things in perspective when balancing her own needs with those of others. 

“I feel blessed that we’re alive, number one, and on the other hand, for the balance, you can never give enough to your community, so I’m so thankful and grateful for that,” she said.

Assistance is on a first come, first serve basis, and applications will be taken until June 30.

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